LADY AT THE BAT: Best MLB Matchups, 2018

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Best MLB Matchups, 2018

With that first pitch of Spring Training having already made its way toward home plate, the 2018 exhibition baseball season is in full swing. However, the excitement of exhibition games wears off quickly, and fans will be chomping at the bit for the real action, which begins for several teams, including the Yankees, on March 29th.

So what games will fans most be looking forward to? What will the key matchups be during the 2018 MLB season?  To be honest, with so many big-name free agents still unsigned, answering that question can be kind of tough right now. Still, as Boylesports proves, it is fun to look ahead and predict which games will be the most entertaining this coming season.

Best Yankees Matchups
We start, of course, with the New York Yankees.  Favorites to win the American League (AL) East, their only competition in the division seems to be the Boston Red Sox. Last year’s playoffs proved the Yankees to be the better team of the two, and their acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton put them over the top. Even without these two developments, however, the traditional rivalry between the two teams always makes the 19 games they play during the season well worth watching.

The Toronto Blue Jays made some noise a few seasons ago, but since then they have come back to earth. But, beware of annoying insects crawling on that earth. The Jays have been pests of the Yankees for years and always play them hard. No dosing off during these games.

The Yankees play the National League (NL) East this season in Interleague Play. Their biggest competition in the NL East is probably the Washington Nationals. Before the Nats try once again to get out of the first round of the playoffs, they will have to contend with the Yankees. Watching Stanton and Bryce Harper play in the same game should be familiar to lots of Nats fans, who watched Stanton as a member of the Miami Marlins.

Speaking of the Marlins, Yankees icon Derek Jeter has said he will not be at Yankee Stadium when the Marlins play the Yankees there. He has said he will always be a Yankee, except when the team he now owns plays them. Since the Marlins are now the worst team in MLB, the only reason I’m calling their games with the Yankees a good matchup is, of course, Derek Jeter.

Other great matchups: The Cleveland Indians had been the favorites, in many people’s books, to win the World Series, until they were upset by the Yankees in round one of the playoffs. The Indians have a score to settle, for sure, and when these two teams meet it will definitely be war….With the acquisition of Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim believe themselves to now be a contender for the AL Wild Card—or, at least a better competitor within the division...Obviously, LA Is anxious to go up against the Yankees with Ohtani, their new two-way star, who could make his MLB debut against them. No one wants to miss that, I’m sure….The Houston Astros are, of course, the World Series Champions. It is the Yankees that have the score to settle with this matchup. But the Astros don’t seem worried about the improvements the Yankees made in the off-season, as they made their own, including trading for Gerrit Cole, whom the Yankees have coveted since he was in high school.

The final matchup involving the Yankees that is worth watching this season is the one with their crosstown rivals, the New York Mets. No matter how good or bad these two teams are, New York City bragging rights are always up for grabs. It is always nice to see the Empire State Building lit up in the colors of the team that wins this Subway Series, whether it’s the team you root for or not.

The Rest of MLB

In addition to an Astros-Angels matchup in the AL West, there should also be a great season series between the Indians and the Minnesota Twins. The Twins, made it all the way to the AL Wild Card Game last year, even after selling off their best players. They finished second to the Indians in the division, and even if they go no further in 2018, they are still primed for better things in the coming seasons.

In the NL, the Nationals-Mets season series is always worth watching, especially to see ex-Met Daniel Murphy continue to punish his old team….Don’t be surprised if the Milwaukee Brewers, with their new toys Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, give the Chicago Cubs a run for their money. The Cubs have their own new toy in Yu Darvish, so it should be a great season series for those two teams….The Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals will always be a great rivalry, whether one team is worse or not. This time around the Cardinals are worse, but they always find a way to be competitive. These games cannot be missed. …Put the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants in the same book with the other classic rivalries, but add on the improvements the Giants have made (including Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria), and it has a new twist. Business as usual and then some for these two opponents.

And there you have it. The best MLB matchups, 2018 style. That’s my take, anyway. What’s yours?

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